Len­ders con­tinue to wrench away GTL pro­moter stake

ICICI Bank picks up 29% in GTL by in­vok­ing pledged shares; last week IFCI picked up 18% in GTL Infra

DNA (Daily News & Analysis) Mumbai Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Li­son Joseph MUM­BAI

More than half of the pro­mot­ers’ hold­ing in GTL Ltd was wrested by its lender ICICI Bank on Fri­day, spell­ing a fresh cri­sis at the debt-laden tele­com in­fra­struc­ture busi­ness — GTL Ltd and GTL Infra — of Manoj Tirod­kar, the rags-to-riches busi­ness­man.

On Fri­day, GTL Ltd in­formed the Bom­bay Stock Ex­change (BSE) that lender ICICI Bank picked up a lit­tle over 29% equity in the com­pany by ac­quir­ing shares of the com­pany pledged as se­cu­rity for loans taken.

With this, pro­mot­ers have be­come mi­nor­ity stake­hold­ers in their own com­pany, with ICICI be­ing the largest share­holder.

It is not clear if len­ders will look at a sale of the com­pany to re­cover their loans. “Please re­fer to the no­tice filed to the stock ex­changes,” a spokesper­son for GTL said. The spokesper­son added that debt re­struc­tur­ing takes time.

A spokesper­son for ICICI Bank de­clined to com­ment.

The last time Tirod­kar — who fig­ured in the Forbes bil­lion­aire list ear­lier this year — was in the eye of a storm was about a decade ago when he was associated with the con­tro­ver­sial in­sider trader Ke­tan Parekh.

As was the case back then, it is the mi­nor­ity in­vestors who are at the re­ceiv­ing end of the pro­mot­ers’ mis­judge­ments.

With the steep fall in share prices dur­ing the last few weeks, GTL pro­mot­ers have been forced to pledge al­most all of their shares with len­ders as se­cu­rity for debt. Fol­low­ing ICICI’s de­ci­sive move, pro­mot­ers now hold about 23% in the com­pany

Last week it was the turn of an­other lender IFCI Ltd, which in­voked pledged shares to pick up 18% in group com­pany GTL In­fra­struc­ture. As trou­ble brewed in the com­pany, its chief ex­ec­u­tive A Ravi re­signed last week.

The two firms to­gether have net debt of over 10,000 crore. SBI Cap­i­tal is un­der­stood to be work­ing with the com­pany to un­der­take credit re­struc­tur­ing to en­sure that len­ders’ in­ter­ests are pro­tected.

With len­ders step­ping in to pro­tect their loans, in­vestors have taken a re­newed in­ter­est in the shares of both com­pa­nies which rose a lit­tle over 9% on Fri­day on BSE. While GTL Infra closed at 15, shares of GTL ended the trade at 74.85 on Fri­day, with a com­bined mar­ket cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion of 2,164 crore.

Ear­lier in the day, a sec­tion of me­dia re­ported that an­other tele­com tower com­pany Viom Net­works has made a 7,500 crore bid for GTL In­fras­tru­cure.

“Viom has not en­tered into any for­mal dis­cus­sion with the com­pany and hence the ques­tion of ¤7,500 crore or

10,500 crore be­ing the of­fer value does not arise,” GTL Infra said.

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